We Are Both Right

Fifty Shades of I’ll Read Something Else

Let’s start with a fun fact, shall we?

Did you know that Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy author E.L. James originally published the work as a piece of Twilight (don’t get me started) fanfiction under the name Snowqueens Icedragon?

Book. Cover. Judged.

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One afternoon about a month ago, I was sitting at my son’s batting practice reading a book on my Nook. My daughter and 3-year-old son were home with their dad, and since me offering my child hitting advice made about as much sense as cleaning the house while my preschooler walked around with a cup of grape juice, I suddenly found myself with an entire hour of interrupted reading time. It was heavenly.

Until it wasn’t.

50 Shades of Grey? Nah, Amanda prefers color. And books without mistakes. GiniMiniGi ©/stock.xchng

Fifty Shades of Grey? Nah, Amanda prefers color. And books without mistakes. GiniMiniGi ©/stock.xchng

“Whatcha reading there, Mrs. R.?,” one of the dads asked. (It should be noted this has always been a pet peeve of mine. I’m clearly reading. Not talking. Why are you interrupting me?) In the interest of social niceties, I looked up and started to answer, but I never had a chance.

“I bet it’s that Fifty Shades book all you women are going crazy for,” he said with a smirk. “Lucky for your husband,” he added.

I started to correct him (I was actually reading the thought-provoking Defending Jacob by William Landay) but he liked the material he had imagined and wasn’t going to let facts get in the way of it. He addressed the other parents (all dads) that were in the waiting area.

“Your wives read the Fifty Shades?” he asked. “Mine did,” he said proudly. “Oh, yeah,” he added as a wink, wink, nudge, nudge, fill-in-the-blanks afterthought. (Lucky girl!)

As the other men started comparing and congratulating (!?!?) each other on the reading habits of their significant others, my inner (ha) nerd had had enough of the locker room talk. She has been a passionate, thoughtful reader since the first time she picked up a book 30-something odd years ago and was not about to let her good, hard-earned reputation be sullied by a 20-something virginal, clumsy woman and her terrible life choices.

“Actually,” she (I) said. “I’m not reading Fifty Shades of Grey, nor will I ever. It’s a ridiculous, poorly-written book with a laughable plot line; incompetently developed, inane characters; and questionable grammar.” (Yes, my inner nerd speaks with semi colons. She didn’t get a lot of dates in high school.) I was about to add, “And I resent that a woman can’t read a book without it being assumed that it’s that tripe,” but the group had already moved on, undoubtedly feeling sorry for my husband and what he has to live with every day. (I think I lost them with my frowny face, furrowed brow and glasses which after that rant were clearly for use and not as a “sexy librarian” prop.)

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Actually, when all the hoopla started, I had considered giving the books a go. I knew of their reputation (subject matter and proclivity for mistakes and repetition) but figured all those people and Facebook feeds couldn’t be wrong. Right? A friend stopped me before I could download the first one. She had read all three and thought they were not bad, but knew “how I was” (whatever could she mean by that?) and said that I would wind up throwing it out the window and mailing a thesaurus and a copy of Garner’s Modern American Usage to the author. I think her exact words were, “It will make you stabby.”

So I stay away from Fifty Shades of Grey. Yes, I realize this makes me a social oddity and a snob (an an awesome poet apparently). That’s fine. I’ll keep on keeping on. You and your inner goddess sit over there and blush and bite your lip. Again. And again. Oh my! Holy cow! Don’t forget to bite your lip! I understand 26-year-old billionaire control freaks who are into BDSM also like that. A lot! (Oh my! I’m biting my lip again!)

(WE GET IT. HE IS TURNED ON WHEN YOU BITE YOUR LIP.)

(Holy cow!)

Please, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think that every book read has to be a thoughtful tome discussing Important Topics. Far from it. Reading should be fun and enjoyable. A way to escape. That’s what books have always been for me. But if we are going to collectively going to go crazy over something that appears on the written page, can it at least be something that doesn’t include the phrase, “He’s my very own Christian Grey flavor Popsicle.”?

Ladies, there are some very good fiction authors out there that have strong, smart women as the lead character. Want erotic fiction with a good story? Try Judy Blume (Summer Sisters and Wifey, not Superfudge) or Penny Vincenzi. Heck, read Joan Collins! (Did I just write that? I’m probably lightheaded from Christian’s rule about no snacking between meals. Who in their right mind would agree to that? My guess? A 21-year-old college student from Seattle who doesn’t own a computer.) Now in these books, you won’t find any Red Rooms of Pain, but you will find interesting plots, complex characters and no glaring typos! Or try something on this list (Wuthering Heights! Really!).

Sigh.

Have you read any part of the Fifty Shades trilogy? Did you become obsessed? Did anything about the books bother you? Suzanne not only read the trilogy, she liked it! (And I always say she’s my most sensible friend!)